Wisenheimers Have The Con   Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Christmas  Post (sorry, the best I can do)

feliz the works, amen

Christmas morning
after Christmas Eve dinner
with relatives, everyone 
sleeps in
but me
who never sleeps in unless
sick to within
ten
minutes
of death

IHOP
for a good senior  omelet
(huge omelet, apparently for
senior lumberjacks)
and two small pancakes
which I share
with Dee
thinking, how strange
that a place with "Pancakes"
in its name should make
such terrible pancakes, then
the Starbucks search,
there's always one open
on Christmas Day, it is for us
dedicated
to find it
(and I did my fifth
try,
the one by the strip club)
so 
here I am at a strange Starbucks
my tall Pike, room at the top, plugged
into the electricity of my life
and writing this
does seem
a helluva a lot off thrashing around
to come up with nothing
but this squib of a
thing

but
hey, it's Christmas
and I'm pleased to keep my Grinch
bottled up inside
long enough
to do  it
andd
say, happy everything there is
you prefer
happy
and 
joy
to you
and all you care about
and upon whom
you count on to share
such
joy
felice
the works
amen












Happy Holidays to all, whatever makes you want to celebrate.

Nobody is going to read this over the holidays, but here it is anyway.


Me 
though I'd feel better if they had actually murdered someone

D. H. Lawrence
Lightning

Me
how to lose a lover in 15 minutes or less
currents
shadows
if a tree fell in the forest
to cut a long tale short

Pablo Neruda
Pact (Sonata)

Me
I am a person

Alex Stolis
We look  & see

Me
the weight of a butterfly multiplied
intelligent design
creating perfection
fast times in Birdland

Me
I'm getting kind of  tired

Me
Friday morning at the diner

Naomi Shihab Nye
from What He Said To His Enemies

Me
come out, come out, whatever you are
regrets, Memorial Day, 2006
something simple
early storm

Robert Bly
November Fog
Ant Heaps by the Path
After a Day of Work

Me
they are ours, take them back 

Edna St. Vincent Millay
Sorrow
I Know a Hundred Ways to Die

Me
marriage and the art of accommodation
WE WILL! WE WILL!
enjoy
wolves at the door

Piotr Sommer
Transparencies
Innocence
Believe Me

Me
an elderly woman died

Gu Cheng
Legal Case
One of My Springs

Me
poem on a napkin
the pull of the moon
warning label
winter winds

Vicente Aleixandre
Three from The Immortals

Me
there is peace in morning fog, and memories
                       











Here it is, first for the week, still election obsessed.








though I'd feel  better if they had actually murdered someone

I'd like to write
about the clouds
and the trees and the birds
and all that stuff,, but
it's the damn politics that
has hold of my mind
these days, that damn  degenerate
Trump and the desecration
of our country's soul and history

and now the Russians
and one of the most effective
despots in the world today
with his hand at our
throat...

not that  Putin didn't  try,
but let's face it,
it wasn't him in the end,
it was our friends and neighbors
who did this, friends and neighbors
for whom
any affection is mightily strained...

I don't want to think they're stupid,
because I know they're not
and I don't want to think they
are as morally bankrupt
as the man they supported
because I know they are not

(not that there is not ample stupidity
and evil among
the Trump contingent)

I think I'm just going to have
to allow them the plea
of temporary insanity, because
after all, people get away 
with murder based on that plea
so I guess it's an okay excuse
for their vote,
though I'd feel better about
them if they'd actually murdered
someone instead of what they've
done to my country...













First from my library this week, this poem by D. H. Lawrence. The poem is from D. H. Lawrence, Selected Poems published in 1986 by Penguin Books.










Lightning

I felt the lurch and halt of her heart
     Next to my breast, where my own heart was beating;
And I laughed to feel it plunge and bound,
And strange in my blood-swept ears was the sound
     Of  the words I kept repeating,
Repeating with tightened arms, and the hot blood's blindfold art.

Her breath  flew  warm against my neck,
     Warm as a flame in the close night air;
And the sense of her clinging flesh was sweet
Where her arms and my neck's blood-surge could meet.
     Holding her thus, did I care
That the black night hid her from me, blotted out every speck?

I leaned forward to find her lips,
     And claim her utterly in a kiss,
When the lightning flew across her face,
And I saw her face from the flaring space,
     Of a second, afraid of the clips
Of my arms, inert and dread, wilted in fear of my kiss.

A moment, like a wavering spark,
     Her face lay there before my breast,
Pale love lost in a snow of fear
And guarded by a glittering tear,
     And lips apart with dumb cries;
A moment, and she was taken again in the merciful dark.

I heard the thunder, and felt the rain,
     And my arms fell loose, and I was dumb.
Almost I hated her, she was so good,
Hated myself, and the place, and my blood,
     Which burned with rage, s I bade her come
Home, away home, ere the lightning floated forth again.










Looking through  old files, I found some shorter poems I haven't looked at in years.










how to lose a lover in 15 words or less

say little

listen less

assume surety
in a universe
of constant
flux


currents

thin crescent
in the still-light sky

first star beside it
floating
in the pale blue sea
of night awakening

drawn by currents
of impending dark
to the wide-open mouth
of hungry moon tides


shadows

a woman in red
stands quiet and still
before a red wall

becomes like a shadow
on the wall

while, I standing
as it passes,
become a shadow
on the parade of daily life


if a tree fell in the forest

a worse thing
than having no thought
is to have a thought
that falls soundless
in a void of indifference

a fallen pebble
sinking in a pond of discourse
without a ripple


to cut a long tale short

blind
mice three
flee

un
suc
cess
ful
ly








Next from my library, the amazing and wonderful Pablo Neruda, Chilean winner of the Noble  Prize for Literature. The poem is from the book Neruda, Selected Poems. Published by Houghton Mifflin in 1990. It  is a bilingual poem, Spanish and English on facing page.

I've been reading of a new movie  about Neruda, coming from the same director who also did the current movie about Jackie Kennedy. I hope to see both.

Reading Neruda makes me wonder how I could ever imagine I might become a poet.





Pact (Sonata)

Neither the heart cut by a piece of glass
in a wasteland of thorns
nor the atrocious waters seen in the corners
of certain  houses,waters like eyelids and  eyes
can capture your waist in my hands
when my heart lifts its oaks
toward your unbreakable thread of snow.

Nocturnal sugar, spirit
of the crowns,
                       ransomed
human blood,your kisses
send me into  exile
and a stroke of water, with remnants of the sea,
beats on the silences wait for you
surrounding the worn chairs, wearing out doors.

Nights with bright sprinkles,
divided, material,nothing
but voice, nothing  but
naked every day.

Over your beasts of motionless current
over your legs of firmness and water,
over the permanence and the pride
of your naked hair
I want to be, my love, now that the tears are thrown
into the raucous basket where they accumulate,
I want to be, my love, alone with a syllable
of mangled silver, along with a tip
of your breasts of snow.

By now sometimes it is not possible
to win except by falling.,
by now it is not possible to tremble between
two beings, to touch the flower of the river:
fibers of man come like needles,
procedures,,  fragments,
families of repulsive coral torments
and hard steps for winter
carpets.

Between lips and lips there are cities
of great ash and moist summit,
drops of when and how, vague
comings and goings:
between lips and lips as along a shore
of sand and glass the wind passes.

Therefore you are endless; gather me as though you were
all solemnity, all made off night
like a zone, until your  are indistinguishable
from the lines of time.
                                     Advance into sweetness,
come to my side until the fingery
leaves of the violins
have gone silent, until the mosses
take root in the thunder, until from the pulse
of hand and hand the roots descend.

          Translated by W. S. Merwin










Disconcerted by events.











I am a person

I am a  person
of regular  habits,
going to my regular
place
my regular ways

except yesterday
when I zigged when I should have 
zagged , taking, in a moment of internal
deconstruction
a wrong turn, finding myself
on a street where I had never been,
a  "Twilight Zone"  moment,
discovering in this strange place,
people not strange at all, shops, like
the very place I sit now,  not strange
at all, and cars,, cars not strange at all
going this-a-way and that, cars driven by regular-
looking people who are not, like me,
on this street by accident, cars driven  by people
who actually mean to be here, came here on purpose
maybe even on a regular  basis,  regular people,
people like me, going their regular places
by their regular ways...

astonishing!!!

face to face with the outer limits










The next piece is by my poet/photographer friend Alex Stolis, from his chapbook, On the run with Dick and Jane, published by Pudding House Press.











We  Look & See

I am erratic, a man without skin. I have given up believing in night
and my soul pinches

at the thought of harvesting ideas. Ideas like the mesmeric effect
of insinuation on  the

flat surface of a river. Ideas that an song that is sung out of tune
by a nicotine-stained

man who stands outside the window, can  be heard across an open
square. Once, in a

hospital room faraway from suitcases and friendships of the
middle class, there was a

chance and maybe a choice. Now everything is faded past in the
mirror of books and dust

that lies thin and plastic on my coverlet. Two  more drinks ought to
do it. Ought to be

enough to wash the stink of morning into the street and down the
alley. The phone rings

One. I wonder if the voice on the other end has any meaning. Two.
I remember a cream

colored napkin with  phone number. Three. She said her name
was Lucy, but the scent of

her hair said Rita. I forget for a moment there is no way to stop a
bus from leaving the

station and once the smell of cigarette smoke gets blown into the
wooden slats on a

forlorn bench it is time to go home. Halfway through four stops.
The silence is raw like

innocence when it is left to dry on the sidewalk after  a hard rain. I
should know better but

I pick up the phone and listen to the dial tone as it buzzes and then
beeps its way into the

soft core of midnight.











More nearly lost  shorts.










the weight of a butterfly, multiplied

all gossamer wings
and sweet intentions,
a single butterfly lands
on a limb in the light-dappled
green of a Mexican rain forest

and another lands
and another and another

and another
until the limb breaks
and falls to the forest floor
in a melee of sunshine
and Monarch color...

such is the weight
of a butterfly, multiplied,
like the small,
passing lies
of  lovers


intelligent design

death
designs the future

eliminating the failed
and all of failure's brood...

death judges us now,
deciding
if there is a place for us
in its evolving pattern


creating perfection

a small mole
at the base of her spine
calls to me as she walks away

this tiny imperfection
on taut, tanned skin
creating perfection

like a god
who laughs
at the absurdity
of its creation


fast times in Birdland

I hit a bird this morning

ran right over  him
when he flew too low
and too slow

dumbass bird

I drove on...

stuck in my Cadillac's
checkerboard grill,
beak forward,
feathers
around his black BB eyes
ruffling in the wind

he dies

thinking
goddamn, look at me go

I'm the fastest bird
in this whole freaking town










A little weary.












I'm getting kind of tired

I’m getting kind of
tired
of writing poetry

it’s  like being
a dog catcher in the
cat  division

nobody
likes cats
and
nobody likes
cat-chasing dog-
catchers

maybe
I should find another  line  of
work

lots of options

for example
I have the exact surly attitude
required
of WalMart  greeters

new
vistas
open for me










A morning ramble.











Friday morning at the diner

new server
at my diner,
chatty, bright as
a new penny
and at the table
across from me
three beautiful Latinas,
in their thirties, I'd say,
professional women
from the way they're
dressed, or stay-at-homes
dressed up for breakfast
from the suburban
mafia
of married women,
in charge, but keeping
it quiet, keeping their
husbands dancing to Pavlov's bell
by pretending it's not them
ringing it...

I like them, the kind of woman
who dominate my cadre
of best friends

~~~~~~~~~~

by the door,
a man in a wheelchair,
his prosthetic leg across
his lap, his breakfast
like mine, oatmeal and
toast...

I don't know if  we
could be friends but
at least we think alike
on breakfast issues...

~~~~~~~~~

the bright, chatty server
takes my money
sends me on my way
with a bright smile and a
chatty wave








Born of a Palestinian father and an American mother, living many of her young years in Lebanon, Naomi Shihab Nye chose San Antonio as her  permanent home many years ago. She is one of my favorite poets. In addition to her own books, she is also an excellent editor, publishing over the years a number of very good anthologies.

This next poem is from her book, 19 Varieties of Gazelle, Poems of the Middle East, published by Green  Willow Books in 2002.





from What He Said To His Enemies

1.

People pass you in the street
and do not see you.

Apparition, hidden river,
inhabitant  of cracks...

After battering talk
a room clears
and you're on the ceiling
extending your silent hand
water of light
poured freely...

a hand, not a flag.
You don't believe in flags anymore.
You're not even sure
you believe in men.

Birds, children, silver trays -
no problem there.
Each day they trade their aIr
and song. They feed you.


2.

 Rounding the last old city corner  to school,
for years and years
 boy touched his finger to
the same chipped stone in a wall.

Befriending one another
was no trouble.

The boy knew what came next:
tight desk, stretching hours.

Sixty years later in another country
he tells one person about the stone.

Then goes outside
to stare into trees.

Is it still there?
He will find it.
What if it is not there?
He will find it.










You want shorties, I got them.












come out, come out, whatever your are

soft shadows

a window
half open
to curtains
stirring
in steamy
summer breeze

inside, secrets,
hidden things
waiting for the dark
when clouds cover
moonlight

and pale shadows
turn thick
and haunting


regrets, Memorial Day,  2006

soldiers
fallen in fields
of blood exploding

lying
now in fields
of quiet honor

sentenced
to this bloody,
honored end
by those of us
who did too little
when madness
became our ruler's
guiding passion


something simple

dark
thoughts
have dimmed
my day

something
simple
is what I need

so it's time
now
to play the
fool

imagine red
balloons


early storm

marbled clouds
pile high
in the eastern sky

tumble and stir
in the rumble
of ions crashing

while pasture grass
rustles
in the first breath
early storm
passing











Next from  my library,  a couple of short pieces by Robert Bly. The poems  are from his book This Tree Will Be Here For a Hundred  Years published in 1979 by Harper & Row.











November Fog

This private misty day
with the lake  so utterly cast down, like
a child
The long anxious wheels
churning in sand,
the pale  willow lees shedding light
around the "pale bride and groom."


Ant Heaps by the Path

I love to stare at old wooden doors after working,
the cough the ant family makes in ground,
The blackish stain around screw heads.

How much labor is needed to live our four lives!
Something turns its shoulders. When we  do work
holes appear in the mountain side, no labor at all.


After a Day of Work

How lightly the legs walk over the snow-whitened fields!
I wander far off,  like a daddy-longlegs blown over the
     water.
All day I   worked alone, hour after hour.
It is January, easy walking, the big snows to come.










 How deal with the new world after the Huns have breached the gates?









they are ours, take them back

perhaps
it is time
for those of us true
to the values of our country's
heart and soul
to take back its symbols
from those who would abuse them,
those who seek to attach to them
their own mean and hateful natures

it is the only resistance
available to us
in these new times...

so
sing loud the national anthem,
stand tall with hand over heart
as the flag passes, recite
the pledge even as all the phony patriots
try to hide their perfidy
behind words they drain of meaning

for it is our flag, our anthem,
our pledge and we should reclaim them
in these dark days when the undeserving
seek to usurp them, as they try
to use them to betray
us








The next two pieces are by Edna St. Vincent Millay, taken from the anthology A Mind Apart Poems of Melancholy, Madness, and Addiction that I didn't get to last week. The book was published by Oxford University Press in 2009.


Born in 1892, Millay died in 1950 after a fall down stairs in her  home. A poet and a playwright, she won a Pulitzer Prize for her poetry. She was America's best known, favorite poet for many years, despite scandal related to her  open bisexuality.









Sorrow

Sorrow like a ceaseless rain
    Beats upon my heart.
People twist and scream in pain -
Dawn will find them still again;
This has neither wax nor wane,
    Neither stop nor start.

People dress and go to town;
    I sit in my chair.
All my thoughts are slow and brown:
Standing up or sitting down
Little matters, or what gown
    Or what shoes I wear.


I know a hundred ways to die

I know a hundred ways to die,
I've often thought I' try one:
Lie down beneath a motor truck
Some day when standing by one.

Or throw myself from off a bridge -
Except such things must be
So hard upon the scavengers
And men who clean the sea.

I know some poison I could drink.
I've often thought I'd taste it.
But mother bought it for the sink,
And drinking it would waste it.











Here's four more.










marriage and the art of accommodation

being of patient
disposition
I do not respond
when she tells me
to cover my mouth
every time I sneeze

even though being
72 years old
and long a master
of proper sneezery

I do know how to do it



WE WILL!  WE WILL!

mom
goes to the supermarket
for early shopping

her little girl
sits in her little shopping cart seat,
her dark hair fluttering
in the fresh morning breeze,
her dark eyes
gleaming in the sharp, new-day
sunshine,
and sings,
as loud as she can
in her squeaky little girl voice

WE WILL WE WILL
WOK U!!!

and the mom looks at me
and shrugs
and I smile

we will

we will

that's the way to start a day


enjoy, enjoy

hand in hand they stroll
the cobbled walk
between Starbucks
and The Gap

carefree,
younger it seems
than ever I was,
never so untroubled
by the looming
of uncertain life

I envy them
their present
and wish
I could walk behind
unseen but heard,
enjoy, enjoy
I would whisper,
enjoy, enjoy
for this bright
and wonderful day
will never come again


wolves at the door

wolves, howling,
afire with lusting for our flesh

that's what  we're told

but it's sheep spread slaughter
on this dry, dusty field,
and truth there with them,
and justice, bought,
then sold
for the blood of lambs









Piotr Sommer was born in Poland in 1948. He is a poet and translator of contemporary English language poetry. His poems are from his book, Continued, published by Wesleyan University Press in 2005. Originally in Polish, translators for individual  poems are not noted.








Transparencies

The afternoon sun
round the corner of the town,
and every inch of skin
and every thought
is clearly exposed,
and nothing can be hidden
as everything comes to the surface:
unanswered letters,
ingratitude,
short memory.


Innocence

When we first met,  we were really so young.
I saw nothing  wrong in writing poems about myself.
Didn't I know that I  too would be ashamed of something?
Didn't I know  who you were?

Shame and laughter lock my mouth in turn.
I'm ashamed to think of it; I'm amused to be ashamed.


Believe me

You're not going to find a better place
for these cosmetics, even if eventually
we wind up with some sort of bathroom closet and
you stop knocking them over with your towel -
there'll still be a thousand reasons to complain
and a thousand pieces of glass  on the floor
and a thousand new worries,
and we'll still have to get up  early.











Time passes. The older you are, the rougher the passage.











an elderly woman died...

an elderly woman died,
an old woman I knew as a girl

several days now
since I heard the news
and I didn't think about it until now
and I'm sad...

her death at my age
not unexpected, it's what happens
when you run up against the end of the road...

the truth is, I never knew the old woman
who died and it's not her I mourn,
it's the girl she was 50 plus years ago,
a teenager, a young adult woman,
tall, smart, vivacious, with a wide
welcoming smile, dancing through life
in South Texas sunshine at an age
when death seemed an unlikely interruption
for her and for me...

I think of her now, not the woman who died,
but the grace of the child who was young
with me years 
past...

I really liked her... 

I wish today
I had told her then









These two poems  are by Chinese poet Gu Cheng, taken  from Nameless Flowers Selected Poems of  Gu Cheng, published by George Braziller,Inc. in 2005. The book was translated by Aaron Crippen.

Gu was a very famous modernist Chinese poet, essayist and novelist. Born in 1956, he died in exile in New Zealand in 1993, taking his own life after murdering his wife.









Legal Case

the nights
are like crowds
of blurry-eyes people
stealing up to me
then leaving

I've  lost my dreams
there are only some coins in my pockets
"I've been robbed"
I say to the sun
the sun goes chasing the nights
and by another crowd of nights
is chased

         1981.11


One of My Springs

Outside the wood window
lie my furrows
my yak
my plow

a squadron of suns
comes shining through the fence slats
sky-blue flower petals
begin to curl

the frightened dew
wets a field of memories
startled sparrows
look to the heavenly pole

I  will to work
choose seeds from in dreams
let them glint in my hand
and cast them on water

        1982.2











More from the past.










poem on a napkin

Starbucks brown
and flimsy.
with little space
for things profound,
instead,
this small memorial
to the moment
our eyes met
and the future
was foretold


the pull of the moon

half moon
cut precisely by earth's shadow,
one part shining
in the clear October night
like a great yellow lantern in the sky
and the other, dark and mysterious,
though barely seen by the eye,
still a mover of tides
and midnight meditations

as the bright in you pulls me,
even more the the secrets
of your darker moods


warning label

cigarette smoke
makes you smell like a bar in the morning

the stale stink of a butt-littered floor
     and spilled beer
and piss from the overflowed urinal in the john

all overlaid by a stink of desperation

the desperation of imp  cocks lost in lust-dreaming
     losers lost in their own lies
redemption-dreams fading as the sun rises

to the squalor of crud crusted eyes
and lingering vomit-bile breath


winter winds

winter winds
sweep
the north hills
cloud
the city
with cedar pollen
that leaves me gasping
like a blowfish
on a stroll down  Grand Avenue










Spanish poet Vicente Aleixandre was born in Seville in 1898 and died in Madrid in 1984. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1977.

I have three of his poems, excerpts from a larger work. The poems are from A Bird of Paper, Poems of Vicente Aleixandre, published by Ohio University Press in 1982. The poems are translated by Willis Barnstone and David Garrison.








From The Immortals

I
Rain

The waist is not a rose.
Not a bird. Not feathers.
The waist is the rain,
fragility, a moan
giving itself to you. Use
your mortal arm to hug
fresh water, a love
complaint. Embrace, embrace it!
The entire rain looks like
a single reed. How it wavers
if there is wind, if your mortal arm
is there, yes, today, you who  love it


VI
Air

Even more than the sea, the air -
huger than the sea - is calm.
High unpeopled vigil of lucidity.
Perhaps one day the crust f the earth
could feel you, human. But the unconquered
air doesn't know it lived in your chest.
No memory, deathless, the air glitters.


VII
Sea

Who said perhaps that the sea moans
sadly, lip of love toward the beaches?    
Let it spread out enveloped in light.  
Glory, glory on high, and on the sea, gold!
Ah, sovereign light that envelops, sings
the imperishable age of the sensual sea
There, reverberating
timeless, the sea exists.
Hear of a deathless god, throbbing!  










Memories of mornings on the coast.











there is peace in morning  fog, and memories

there is a kind of peace
when driving in heavy fog,
sharpened by a small edge 
of danger, unknowing what lies
beyond the blind ahead

the contradiction
of desires, peace and the challenge
of  danger...

thoughts brought on by fog
in San Antonio this early morning,
remembering the dense fog on coastal 
mornings, fog along the shoreline, driving
to work, stopping at one of the T-heads
to listen to unseen waves lapping, the gulls
crying so close I could almost touch them
if I could  see them, or a  particular pre-dawn
drive to Galveston along the coast highway,
my car a tiny island of light in a shrouded world,
ever mile an adventure...

or closer to now, walking downtown, crossing
the river on bridges rising up like stone guardians
above the river fog, again, senses alert,
the river not seeing it, but hearing its flow
below the gray curtain...

(this was years ago, when I was young
and easily detached from reality, walking
the streets of a city new and strange
to me - peace, adventure, danger,  the
milk and honey of a young man on his own)

~~~~~~~

all these memories from a light fog
on a cold December morning...

how the past grows in my mind
as the present recedes...








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Poetry

New Days & New Ways


Places and Spaces
 




Always to the Light




Goes Around Comes Around



Pushing Clouds Against the Wind





And, for those print-bent, available at Amazon and select coffeehouses in San Antonio




Seven Beats a Second





Fiction


Sonyador - The Dreamer




                                                            

  Peace in Our Time
 

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Previous Entries
Dawning of the Age of Precarious
It's True, Pigs Can Fly (but only on Air Force One...
Winners, Whiners, Weasels, Wafflers
Horst-Wessel Sing-Along Anyone? (Capturing the Zei...
What You Gonna Do When the Lies Run Dry, Senor Man...
Who Tolls the Bells at Truth's Execution
Whispers of Truth in a Gale of Lies
Where's Vladimir? (Closer than you think)
Whistling Past the Graveyard
And It's Another Fine Mess We've Gotten Us Into
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Links
Loch Raven Review
Mindfire Renewed
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Thunder In Winter, Snow In Summer
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Beau Blue
Downside up
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Wrong Planet...Right Universe
Poetry and Poets in Rags
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